Arlecchino Newsletter

Vol. 2 Issue n. 03
November 15, 2000

~~~          A Free bi-weekly newsletter of 141 subscribers
~~~          on the discussion of topics related to
~~~          the made-in-Italy products, to the Italian way of life
~~~          and more generally to the Italian style.
~~~          supported by Studiosoft at
~~~          Marco Piazzalunga, Publisher
~~~          Vol. 2, issue #03, November 15, 2000

dear friends,

We have restarted publishing our newsletter after some months of silence. The Net is a place of continuous movement and change, and we also had to take measures and try to add and remove those elements which, in our opinion, are essential to make our online community project come true. That is why we have introduced some improvements in the management of our private mailboxes, we made our TalkTalkChat faster and, above all, removed some online stores which, at this stage of the Internet development, we do not think will be successful in the short run. Furthermore, we introduced two new online stores, dedicated to Murano glassware and ceramics of Sicily.
See you in our next issue that will be published in a fortnight.

Your tireless moderator.

Marco Piazzalunga

                       IN THIS ISSUE

New Topics on Italian handicraft works of art (2)

1) The International Tahitian pearl trophy at "Orogemma"
     by International Jeweler

2) Reflections From the Island of Glass
     by Reagan Connell

New Topics on Italian/European antique & collectibles (2)

1) Mosaic Jewellery
     by Martyn Downer (Sotheby's)

2) Eighteenth Century Mirror Glass
     by Clive Edwards

New Topics on Fine Arts in Italy/Europe (2)

1) A Warm Light Among Shadows in Venice
     by Reagan Connell

2) De Chirico rediscovered
     by Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco and Flavia Matitti

New Topics on Italian style (2)

1) Gucci Group N.V. Announces New Appointment.
     by PR Newswire

2) Fifteen years of Italian motoring and style.
     by Ben Stewart


-----====(* ITALIAN HANDICRAFT WORKS OF ART *)====-----

Subject: The International Tahitian pearl trophy at "Orogemma"

VICENZA, Italy, November 10, 2000 - From 16th to 20th September 2000 the exhibition resulting from the International edition of the Tahitian Pearl Trophy finally came to Italy to gladden the hearts of the trade operators visiting Orogemma 2000, the popular jewellery trade fair based in Vicenza.
Over eighty creations made by designers and jewellers from all over the world were presented: Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Lebanon, Mexico, North America, Spain, Switzerland, Tahiti, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel and Japan.
Deriving from the competition called last year by G.I.E. Perles, the exhibition displays jewels with Tahitian pearls chosen as finalists by a jury of well-known personalities in the sector, among which are the editors of various publications such as Vogue Gioiello, Le Figaro, Die Zeit, Arte y Joya, O Estado de Sao Paulo, Fenua Orama, A World of Dream.
The stop-offs that have preceded Vicenza have been: Palm Beach, Basel and Las Vegas.The exhibition is now presented in Hong Kong and finally, on October 8th, in Paris, where an unforgettable party will be held for the occasion of selecting the final winners.

International Jeweler


Subject: Reflections From the Island of Glass

MURANO, Italy, November 11, 2000 - Almost everyone who's been to Venice has participated in a daily ritual I think of as The Murano Experience. It begins with "...the special tour of the famous glass works arranged personally for you by the hotel concierge."
Like a scene from The Great Gatsby, the expensive water taxi makes its way across the mile of lagoon that separates the islands, its throaty, powerful engine and spacious cabin making passengers feel like the privileged elite.
There's a private dock bordered with flowers, a caring guide who helps the ladies from the boat, then acts as an escort into the dark, hot factory. The guide is very attentive, explaining each step of the intense process. There are glowing ovens where the glass is heated to a molten state. Young apprentices and assistants carry the soft blobs to the masters who turn and blow and twist and measure until the glass is magically transformed into a beautiful vase.
It's all very impressive. When the tour is done, the guide shows his guests
into the world famous Museum Show Room, a rare sort of museum because almost everything on display is for sale. A million lira ($500 U.S.) for the ornate vase, ten-million for the large chandelier, and, here and there, a small item or two in the half-million lira range. Of course, "Anything here can be carefully packed and reach your home by the time you return. What a lovely surprise will be waiting for you."
The contents of the museum range from simply beautiful to spectacular and some others that I would describe only as fastoso. (My nice Italian way of saying gaudy!) All things considered, it's a very pleasant (and free) visit to a most unusual place. Murano is, after all, world famous for it's artful glass creations.
But, most of us have no place in our homes for such lavish objects of art. Sadly, when we say this to our attentive escort, he seems offended, becomes quickly uninterested, brusquely guides us back to the boat, and permits us to find our own way on board. In moments, the mile of lagoon is behind us and we're deposited back on San Marco, thinking we've seen all there is of Murano and we won't need to go there again!
Happily, there's much more to Murano than these dashing guides would have you believe. If, instead of the water taxi, we'd taken the number 52 vaporetto to the island, we would have found a lovely addition to the Venetian experience. It's colorful, never very crowded, a delightful place to while away a morning. You'll never forget for a moment that you're on the Isola di Vetro, the Island of Glass. Dozens of shops offer wares that range from beads to vases, all very affordable, most very beautiful.
Ironically, on this side of the looking glass, there's almost no sign of the elaborate world on the other. There is the Museum of Glass Art but, if you
want to see some of those elaborate creations that are for sale on the glass factory tour, you'll need to ask. They're often hidden in back rooms and upstairs, reserved for those with interest and plenty of cash, hidden well away from tiny fingers.
There's a wealth of history surrounding this small island. Venice was the first to discover the secrets of making crystal glass and mirrors. They guarded and protected their industry well. It's said that if a master glass maker tried to defect to another country the Venetians wouldn't hesitate to send an assassin after him, keeping his secrets from potential competitors.
Late in the 12th century, all of the glass makers were moved to Murano, an effort to isolate the forges and the high risk of fire.
The buildings here are much simpler than the elaborate frescos and facades of Venice. They're also much more colorful. Off the main street, the Fondamenta dei Vetrai, the commercial storefronts quickly give way to the domestic side of life, to quiet neighborhoods surrounding small squares. The colors are rich and uniquely Murano. Cafes are more common than restaurants here and seem perfect for a light lunch before returning to the busy streets of Venice or exploring the lagoon.

Reagan Connell


Subject: Mosaic Jewellery

FLORENCE, Italy, November 12, 2000 - The imaginative flights of the jeweller have always been tempered by the craft that he practises; his own art often confined by the beauty and value of the materials he works. The mosaicist breaks free of these limitations and by wielding his palette of semi-precious stones and glasses approaches the limitless horizons of the artist forming a bond between the fine and applied arts. There are two distinct forms of mosaic work: Roman mosaics or micromosaics and Florentine mosaics or pietre dure.
The Florentine mosaicists initially enjoyed the greater renown when the Optificio delle Pietre Dure was founded by Francisco 1 dei Medici in 1580.
With the rich source of semi-precious stones that surrounded the city, the Florentine mosaicists would set carved pieces of chalcedony, lapis lazuli, cornelian and other hardstones into a mount of, usually, black marble to create bold, predominantly, floral images with swathes of colour sharply juxtaposed. Such work was suitable for large surfaces and initially was exclusively used to enhance the richly decorated objects created to satisfy the wealthy Florentine mercantile patrons. Later, and certainly by 1799 when Florence was occupied by the French, the Florentine mosaicist had to adapt his art to satisfy the smaller demands of the many rather than the expansive (and expensive) orders of a disappearing few, creating mosaics suitable for mounting as jewellery by local goldsmiths. In this they were greatly helped by the Empress Josephine who collected Florentine mosaics and whose influence helped spread the fashion throughout Europe leading to the establishment of workshops in Paris and later in Derbyshire where, under the auspices of the Duke of Devonshire, the stones were quarried, carved and set.
The vast majority of subjects remained floral although occasionally insects
or animals were represented but the emphasis remained on the beauty of the materials rather than on the subject and by the 19th century these had come to encompass not only hardstones but corals, mother-of-pearl and ivories.
The concerns of the 19th century Roman mosaicist were quite the reverse. Their art was derived from the Opus tesselatum of classical Rome, the decoration of surfaces with a multitude of stone or glass tesserae or fragments. At almost the same time as the establishment of the Optificio in Florence, the Fabbrica di S. Pietro was founded at the Vatican in 1576 to revive Opus tesselatum not only as part of a grand project for decorating the interior of the Basilica but to satisfy the demands of pilgrims for souvenirs.
Until the 18th century the Roman mosaicists remained local to the Vatican
but growing interest in their art fuelled by the re-awakening of interest in antiquities led to the creation of the more commercial Studio Vaticano del Mosaico in 1727. This was soon producing an enormous number and range of Roman mosaics for the increasing number of Grand Tourists descending on Rome from throughout Europe but notably from England.
The Roman mosaicist, or micromosaicist, used minute filaments of glass to decorate a mount usually of stone or glass. The tesserae themselves were the fragments of single colour glass rods, 'smalti filati', which when stretched 'in thickness from that of a piece of string to the finest cotton thread' produced a subtle variation in hue, the minute differences in which were exploited by the mosaicist to create shading. Once the tesserae had been assembled the mount was filled with plaster and then a mastic, and the tesserae were arranged with tweezers and secured. Any spaces were filled in with coloured waxes, and the finished mosaic was then polished off.
Astonishingly the finest micromosaics of the late 18th century can contain up to 1,400 tesserae per square inch. Giacomo Raffaelli (active 1775) is credited as the first exponent of this sophisticated work and is believed to
have initiated multi-coloured filati to enhance the palette of the mosaicist. By the 1820s there were about twenty mosaicists active in Rome and, as with Florence, other workshops throughout Italy and in Paris. The enormous interest in the Antique, and notably in classical architecture inspired by widespread archaeological discoveries throughout the Eastern Mediterranean awakened the mosaicist to his immediate environment and soon re-creations of landscape were superseded by miniature representations of the Parthenon, the Forum, the Colosseum and the Greek Temple at Paestum. The growth of the Romantic movement similarly led to charming representations in mosaic of peasants in traditional costumes often depicted in rural pursuits.
The mosaics themselves were passed to goldsmiths for mounting, often in Archaeological Revival style or exported to France or England for setting. The renowned firm of Castellani had their own mosaic workshop and, in conjunction with their superlative jewels, the mosaicist's art reached its apotheosis in their re-interpretations of Christian and Byzantine mosaics found in churches.

Martyn Downer (Sotheby's)


Subject: Eighteenth Century Mirror Glass

LONDON, November 18, 2000 - The value and use of mirrors has a long history, but during the 17th century they became essential accessories for the domestic interior. By the 18th century, the use of mirrored looking glasses was two-fold: they were used as a practical means to enhance the decoration and lighting of rooms that mainly relied on candle-power for illumination, and they were needed for personal grooming.
The commentator Celia Fiennes gives us this invaluable account of room furnishings at the end of the 17th century. Here she is recording a visit to Chippenham Park in Cambridgeshire. In the best drawing room: there was no looking glass but on the chimney piece and just opposite in the place a looking glass used to be was 4 pannells of glass in length and 3 in breadth set together in the wanscote; the same was in another drawing room which was for my Lord; the dineing room had this looking glass on the two piers between the three windows it was from the top to the bottom 2 pannells in breadth and 7 in length, so it shews from top to toe. In a different sense, mirrors provided the physical access to view the self within one's particular surroundings, thus confirming the owner's self-status and position in society. This status message of mirrors (alongside other items such as books, clocks and pictures) is very important in understanding the period and its furnishings. It has been shown that between 1675 and 1725 ownership of mirrors (based on the inventory samples analysed) rose from 58% to 80% in London, whilst in provincial towns the rise was from 36% to 74%. It is not surprising to find that it was the gentry, and high to medium status tradesmen and merchants who registered the greatest rise in ownership of these desirable objects. It is legitimate to suggest that this process of acquisition continued throughout the 18th century and filtered down through many sections of society, thus accounting for the wide range of styles and sizes of mirrors that are extant.
As with many consumer goods, once they had reached down to a certain level, variations were presented to re-introduce a degree of exclusivity at the high levels. Mirrors were certainly no exception. The enormous variety in the range of frames was the greatest asset in this instance, although even the glass itself could be specially treated to provide distinction.
From circa 1500 the manufacture of glass plates was combined with the tin-mercury process of silvering which created the mirror, thus establishing the basis of most mirror making for the next 400 years. The Venetians had established a lead in the supply of glass mirrors from the early 16th century. This was due to the technical development of the broad or Lorraine process of glass-making which involved blowing a tube of glass until it reached the appropriate size, when it was then sliced lengthwise, and afterwards flattened within an annealing chamber. Clearly this process was limited to the finished sizes that could be made, but this did not in any way deter market growth. The high value placed on glass and mirrors, due to the expense and limited production caused by the process, made ownership desirable both as a status symbol and for its functional value.
Indeed, the marketable value of glass and mirrors was not lost on English
entrepreneurs. In 1621, Sir Robert Maunsell petitioned the King for the right to develop a looking-glass factory. His business employed strangers from foreign parts to instruct natives not only in making Crystalline Murano glasses but also Looking Glass plates and their foyling.
The trade developed and in 1664 the Worshipful Company of Glass-Sellers and Looking Glass Makers was incorporated. As businesses grew, so prices fell relatively, and in 1664 Samuel Pepys was able to purchase 'a very fine glass' for the sum of five guineas.
By the mid 18th century, the techniques of glass-making had improved sufficiently to create extraordinary mirror sizes. According to contracts made by Chippendale, the size of 96 x 46 inches was not unusual, and his company were even able to supply mirrors of 114 x 90 inches, but this was undoubtedly exceptional. The development of large plates of glass no doubt reflects a desire to lessen the importation of French glass and develop a national trade.

Clive Edwards

------=====(* FINE ARTS IN ITALY & EUROPE *)=====------

Subject: A Warm Light Among Shadows in Venice

VENICE, Italy, November 7, 2000 - After a few days of exploring the art treasures of Venice, the patina begins to fade. Dimly lit rooms, roped off corridors, muted, aging canvasses, air that's been recirculating since the 19th century all combine to make me want to run into the sunlight and roll about on green grass.
When I know I can't possibly view one more bit of religious art, when the smell of burning candles makes my nose twitch, I put the guide book into my back pack and have lunch in the warmest, sunniest spot I can find. Then, I make my way across the Grand Canal to Dorsoduro, along its tiny streets and walkways, until I reach the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni. This lovely though unfinished palace is the home of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and one of the most interesting and relaxing treasures in the city.
Peggy Guggenheim lived in this -il palazzo non finito- for 30 years as she collected the paintings and sculptures that are on display here. She was famous for her support of local and international art and artists and frequently opened her home and garden to host their exhibitions. Upon her death in 1979, she donated the palazzo and her works of art to The Guggenheim Foundation which maintains it today and keeps this lovely small museum open to the public.
It's a bright and airy place, a perfect showcase for the collection, which includes works by Picasso, Kandinsky, Severini, Chagall, Dali, Miro, and many others. Quiet and comfortable rooms display each work as they probably did when Ms. Guggenheim was present, each in its own place of honor.
The terrace of the palazzo offers a grand presence on the canal. It's impossible to pass without noticing the low facade and the lions guarding its entrance. Though it's different in both color and texture, it relaxes in the shadows of older and more formal buildings around it. Framed by the trees of its garden, it's a structure that is warm and inviting.
It's the garden that I've always enjoyed most, that draws me back again and again. Its cool and informal space seems the perfect place for the works of art. It's also the final resting place of Peggy and a succession of her pet dogs, fourteen of them, ending with Cellida, which died in 1979, the same year as her mistress. This, for the most part, is an area that appeals to the senses, art that was designed to be touched. This tactile feature sets it apart from a city where touching of the art treasures is not only discouraged, it is forbidden.
If you're planning a trip to Venice, I urge you to add this treasure to your itinerary. Even if you're not fond of the work of the modernists, the cubists, or the futurists, there'll be plenty to enjoy. The works of Ernst, Calder, and Pollock are alive with color in this intimate setting. Even when
the city is bursting at the seams with tourists, the garden is a place of quiet retreat. Use this link if you want to know more about the history and contents of the Collection as well as special events, hours, and admission charges:

Reagan Connell


Subject: De Chirico rediscovered

FERRARA, Italy, November 04, 2000 - Spring 1949. A painter just over sixty years of age at the height of a new painting phase under the banner of Museum and Baroque. Furthermore, Giorgio de Chirico is leading a vigorous campaign against Modernism, he who had been one of its founders.
In Paris, between 1911 and 1915, he won over Apollinaire and Paul Guillaume with his metaphysical piazzas, with his manikins that are a prelude to the disasters of war.
In Ferrara, between 1915 and 1918, he founded the Scuola Metafisica, and with his enigmatic visions convinced also Carlo Carrà and Giorgio Morandi.
In Rome and Florence, between 1919 and 1922, he was part of "Valori Plastici" and "La Ronda". He declared "Pictor Classicus sum" and fought for the rappel-à-l'ordre: not a reactionary movement but a post-war necessity (shared with Picasso and Stravinsky).
In Paris in 1924, he took part in the founding of Surrealism: one of his pictures of Ferrara in the group photo by Man Ray is seen above the head of attractive André Breton. Between 1925 and 1930, he settled in Paris first venerated and then shunned by the friends of the Avanguardia, but anyway succeeding in imposing himself (also on the written page) as the most surrealist of the Surrealists in power.
In the 1930s, between Paris and Italy, he experimented a career of Ulysses: he changed places and styles, repudiating everything except himself and his memory.
In 1936-37 in New York he won over America and was smitten by new fantastic visions, beyond space and time. In 1938, having returned to Milan, he decided to adopt a baroque style and stayed passionately so for ten years.
In that spring of 1949, he sent one hundred pictures to London, for an exhibition about which almost nothing was known until now. This is our reason for reconstructing it. We have identified some forty of these one hundred works; another dozen are still sub judice. Work is continuing, as is right for any "virtual" research such as the one we propose today.
The discovery: research carried out in London in the Archive of Art and Design (which since 1991 has been in the archives of the Royal Society of
British Artists) has finally made it possible to shed light on an exhibition that was fundamental for reconstructing de Chirico's baroque period. Until
now this show was shrouded in mystery, nothing was known about where it was held, or its catalogue, it being often confused with the Royal Academy.
Now, thanks to rediscovered documentation, we know that de Chirico exhibited in London on the invitation of John Copley, president of the Royal Society of British Artists, after having been nominated an honorary foreign member of that historic society. The exhibition was held from 5 May to 15 June 1949, at the same time as the Summer Exhibition, the traditional summer mega-show organised by the Royal Society of British Artists in their exhibition halls in Suffolk Street.

Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco and Flavia Matitti

-----====(* ITALIAN STYLE *)====-----

Subject: Gucci Group N.V. Announces New Appointment

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Nov 6, 2000 - Gucci Group announces the appointment of Massimo Macchi as Vice President Gucci Group, reporting to Domenico De Sole, Chief Executive Officer of Gucci Group. Massimo Macchi will join Gucci in January 2001 from Bulgari Group where he was Executive Vice President and Chief Executive of the Perfume Division, responsible for business activities worldwide. Previous to various managing positions at Bulgari, including Executive Vice President of Jewelry, Watches and Accessories Sales Division, Massimo spent three years at American Express Italia Co. S.p.a, where he held the position of Vice President for Marketing and Sales.
Commenting on the appointment, Domenico De Sole said, "I am delighted that Massimo has decided to join Gucci. He has a deep understanding of the luxury goods industry and an intimate knowledge of global sales and marketing strategies and trends. He will play an important role as the Group moves forward and strengthens Gucci as one of the world's leading multi-brand luxury goods companies."
Gucci Group N.V. is one of the world's leading multi-brand luxury goods companies. Through the Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Sergio Rossi and Boucheron brands it designs, produces and distributes high-quality personal luxury goods, including ready to wear, handbags, luggage, small leather goods, shoes, timepieces, jewelry, ties and scarves, eyewear, perfume, cosmetics and skincare products.
The Group directly operates stores in major markets throughout the world and wholesales products through franchise stores, duty free boutiques and leading department and specialty stores. The shares of Gucci Group N.V. are listed on the New York Stock Exchange and on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange.

PR Newswire


Subject: Fifteen years of Italian motoring and style.

CARMEL, California, September 2000 - For lovers of Italian cars, the Concorso Italiano is every bit as exciting as the concours d’elegance at Pebble Beach. Held each year in August on the golf course at the Quail Lodge in Carmel, Calif., the Concorso Italiano is a wonderful gathering of some of the most exotic and powerful machines on the planet. Over the years, founders Francis and Janet Mandarano have made the Concorso feel like a one-day trip to Modena or Maranello.
Though not a formally judged event, trophies are awarded in the categories of Best of Show, Best of Show Motorcycle and People’s Choice. It’s a casual affair, especially when compared to the big Pebble Beach show held the same weekend.
This year marked the 15th anniversary of the Concorso, so it was packed with Italian ironland aluminum and carbon fiber and magnesium. Lamborghinis, Ferraris, DeTomasos, Lancias, Alfa Romeos, and even Isos and Abarths, made up the field of Italian greats. Maserati, however, was the Featured Marque.
Created in 1914 by Officine Alfieri Maserati, the small car company began by modifying Isottas, much like modern-day tuners such as AMG now do with Mercedes-Benz products. In 1925, Maserati began building its own automobiles, including winning race cars such as the Tipo 26. By 1939 Maserati had won its first Indy 500. After World War II it went on to win several world championships with Jaun Manuel Fangio at the wheel. Since that time, Maserati has produced some of the most memorable cars to come out of Italy.
The magic of the day stemmed from the gathering of the classic sports cars. Both Ferrari and Lamborghini celebrated anniversaries at this year’s event.
The Ferrari 308 turns 25 this year and there was an impressive turnout to
help celebrate. Many consider the 308 to be the car that made Ferrari a household name. It is, without a doubt, one of the most successful and stylish models ever to wear the Prancing Horse emblem.
The Lamborghini Miura turns 35 this year. For the birthday party, both individual owners and car clubs gathered at the Concorso for the Miura Reunion 2000. Penned by Marcello Gandini for the Geneva auto show in 1966, the P400 Miura became an instant classic. Though the bodywork is still stunning, it was the posterior mounting of the V12 engine that gave the car its balance and speed. The Miura was built like a race car and, for the late ’60s and early ’70s, performed like one, too. This car could top out at 170 mph. In late 1983 Ferruccio Lamborghini was asked what his ideal sports car was and he said, I still answer in one word: Miura.
Throughout the day spectators could view cars from grandstands set up on the green for the drive-by presentations. With commentary by Keith Martin, publisher of the Sports Car Market Letter,as well as knowledgeable club representatives, Italian car enthusiasts could learn some of the history behind these great automobiles. We look forward to Aug. 17, 2001, when the Concorso Italiano returns to the Carmel Valley.

Ben Stewart


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